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ISRAEL: Conscientious objector Natan Blanc sentenced to 10 days' in prison

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  • Israel
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19 year-old Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc, from Haifa, declared his refusal to serve in the Israeli Army on Monday 19 November 2012. On Tuesday 20 November, he was sentenced to 10 days' of imprisonment for his refusal.

In his refusal declaration Natan Blanc wrote:

I began thinking about refusing to conscripted into the Israeli Army during the “Cast Lead” operation in 2008. The wave of aggressive militarism that swept the country then, the expressions of mutual hatred, and the vacuous talk about stamping out terror and creating a deterrent effect were the primary trigger for my refusal. Today, after four years full of terror, without a political process [towards peace negotiations], and without quiet in Gaza and Sderot, it is clear that the Netanyahu Government, like that of his predecessor Olmert, is not interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in preserving it. From their point of view, there is nothing wrong with our initiating a “Cast Lead 2″ operation every three or four years (and then 3, 4,5 and 6): we will talk of deterrence, we will kill some terrorist, we will lose some civilians on both sides, and we will prepare the ground for a new generation full of hatred on both sides.

As representatives of the people, members of the cabinet have no duty to present their vision for the futures of the country, and they can continue with this bloody cycle, with no end in sight. But we, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game. That is why I have decided to refuse to be inducted into the Israeli Army on November 19, 2012.

You can read the full declaration here.

The imprisonment of Natan Blanc is a violation of article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Israel is a party. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Opinion 24/2003 on Israel came to the conclusion that the repeated imprisonment of conscientious objectors in Israel is arbitrary, and therefore it constitutes a violation of 14 par 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Israel is a signatory. The United Nations Human Rights Committee recognised in a decision from January 2007 the right to conscientious objection as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article 18 ICCPR. In fact, in this decision on two cases of conscientious objectors from South Korea, the Human Rights Committee stated that not to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of Article 18 ICCPR (see CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004 from 23 January 2007). Since then the Human Rights Committee on two occasions decided on further cases from South Korea and one case from Turkey, with the same result.

It has to be feared that Natan Blanc faces repeated imprisonment for his refusal to perform military service.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of support to Natan Blanc:
Natan Blanc
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
Israel
Fax: +972-4-9540580

Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send them your letters of support and encouragement via e-mail to Natan at nathanbl@walla.com.

War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the Israeli authorities, and Israeli embassies abroad. An email letter to Israels Minister of Defence Ehud Barak can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/20653

War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objector Natan Blanc, and all other imprisoned conscientious objectors.

Hannah Brock
War Resisters' International